Inspiration. Is it something to wait for? or look for?
I used to think that if I just waited long enough, inspiration would come to me. It was a sort of “the-world-owes-me-a-living” approach to the muse. As if being an artist was enough to inform the world that I would need bursts of revelation and motivation to ensure that the creative spark would moved to become form in art — poetry, music, performance, graphic/visual art and so on. The muse, for me, was waiting on my whim to serve me.
The problem with this view was that my artistic expressions were at the mercy of whether I thought inspiration was actually showing up or not. And what this really meant is that I could be creative if I was in the right emotional and mental state to have something “come out of me” from this insight of the muse. What I’ve begun to realize over the past few years is that this reliance on emotional/mental readiness is not completely necessary. (Though plenty of people that I admire were trying to tell me this all along.) While there are certainly thoughts that can distract me, especially in my improvisational work, any time is the right time for creativity.
The beautiful implication of this is that I can go after the inspiration. Jack London once said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” I used to think that this was a negative saying, but now, I really get it. Inspiration is everywhere. It’s just a matter of going after it. Or if you prefer: just noticing it.
This is exactly why the improvised forms so often start with getting a word from the audience or creating a list of words and phrases from which to pull for live improv theatre. That’s all the creative person needs: a word or a picture or a breeze. These will be that inspiration — however large or small — that can initiate the artistic expression.
This is the freedom of artistry, this knowing that inspiration is always present. In this freedom of “inspiration everywhere”, the artist does not have to be a slave to the right mental or emotional state. Fear no longer has the upper hand. Real artistic liberty is an internal choice. And this means that — other than doing art — the real work of the artist is to be conscious and aware enough to see the muse in whatever is here. Now.
May you be blessed with the vision of inspiration that is in front of you,